By our fabulous associate and awesome writer, Lydia Marchant.
All my life, I’ve lived a little bit in the future.
As a kid that meant hosting Delia Smith-inspired dinner parties from my toy kitchen. Or meticulously vacuuming the whole house with an Early Learning Centre hoover (why isn’t hoovering fun anymore??) Later on it was all about university courses and finding student accommodation with the best party reputation and /or glossiest kitchen.
Even now I spend loads of my free time (and /or the time I’m s’posed to be writing) planning every aspect of my future life. It’s not just the future house (3-bed terrace on Ella Street), future car (Peugeot 108), future dog (Golden Cavapoo called Stanley), future hen party (where my mates ‘surprise’ me with karaoke and I’m like ‘no, seriously guys, I couldn’t possibly’ before belting out word-perfect the Ludacris rap from Justin Bieber’s Baby). I’m constantly looking forward - to the next 4 years worth of holidays and, week on week, to meals out and pub trips to ‘treat myself’ for doing the back-breaking, impossible job that is sitting on my arse writing.
And the top spot, the thing that I overthink and over-plan more than any other? My job. Endless 5 Year /1 Year /3 Month Plans on my laptop lead me from here to main house shows, original dramas and world domination (‘cept not the last one - I couldn’t organise a piss up in a 'Spoons).
I know it’s a control thing. I know ‘not knowing’ scares the shit out of me (I’m a wreck on NYE). And, as explained by my therapist in probably the most First-World-Millennial CBT session ever - when things are at their most uncertain, trawling through Rightmove more than once a day becomes my crutch. To make me feel like I still ‘know where I’m going.’
Back in January, true to form, I had 2020 all planned out. For the first-time-ever I knew exactly what I was going to be working on /how much I was going to be earning for the whole entire year. I was living with my boyfriend after 2 years’ long distance. I had a gym membership AND a keep-cup that I genuinely remembered to use at least 60% of the time. I was ticking off my Adulting Wish List at a rate of knots.
But by the end of March most of my work had been cancelled or postponed. I was handing in my notice on our flat share in London because, with no idea when I could start earning again, I couldn’t cover the rent. I was living back with my family and in recovery for, it turns out, a very real addiction to Chain Restaurants - with no idea when I would see my boyfriend and /or the inside of a Nando’s again.
Those first couple of months felt (a bit) like living in a black hole. How was I meant to ‘look forward’ when there were no holidays /gigs /social meet ups on the horizon? How could I ‘life plan’ when I didn’t have anywhere to live? How was I s’posed to fantasise about future press nights when I didn’t even know if there’d be a theatre industry to go back to? No one knew what the world was going to look like after this, let alone my 5 Year Plan.
All planning was pointless. So… I had to start letting go. Just a bit. My boyfriend and I clubbed together what we had to rent a place back in Yorkshire that we can just about afford. Not a career move or a forever place, but a short-term let where we can wait things out. No holidays to look forward to and all socialising’s rain-dependant. But I’ve got a personal chef (and /or boyfriend) cooking me good food every night, river walks that end with tinnies and Modern Family on Netflix. It’s a process. Somedays I revert back to over-planning and existential angst. And somedays, when it’s wet and rainy, it’s just more fun to imagine 2021-Lydia on a beachside sun lounger, sipping an ice-cold Mythos. But I’m getting better.
And I haven’t been on Rightmove in literally 3 weeks.
For maybe the first time in my life I feel like I’m starting to live in the Now - taking every day as it comes. Will I be able to keep that up in the future? No one knows. And that’s kinda alright.
Lydia pictured with her personal chef /boyfriend.